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Sonny Stitt

Charlie Parker has had many admirers and his influence can be detected in numerous styles, but few have been as avid a disciple as Sonny Sitt. There was almost note-for-note imitation in several early Stitt solos, and the closeness remained until Stitt began de-emphasizing the alto in favor of the tenor, on which he artfully combined the influences of Parker and Lester Young. Stitt gradually developed his own sound and style, though he was never far from Parker on any alto solo. A wonderful blues and ballad player whose approach influenced John Coltrane, Stitt could rip through an up-tempo bebop stanza, then turn around and play a shivering, captivating ballad. He was an alto saxophonist in Tiny Bradshaw's band during the early '40s, then joined Billy Eckstine's seminal big band in 1945, playing alongside other emerging bebop stars like Gene Ammons and Dexter Gordon. Stitt later played in Dizzy Gillespie's big band and sextet. He began on tenor and baritone in 1949, and at times was in a two-tenor unit with Ammons. He recorded with Bud Powell and J.J. Johnson for Prestige in 1949, then did several albums on Prestige, Argo, and Verve in the '50s and '60s. Stitt led many combos in the '50s, and re-joined Gillespie for a short period in the late '50s. After a brief stint with Miles Davis in 1960, he reunited with Ammons and for a while was in a three-tenor lineup with James Moody. During the '60s, Stitt also recorded for Atlantic, cutting the transcendent Stitt Plays Bird, which finally addressed the Parker question in epic fashion. He continued heading bands, though he joined the Giants of Jazz in the early '70s. This group included Gillespie, Art Blakey, Kai Winding, Thelonious Monk, and Al McKibbon. Stitt did more sessions in the '70s for Cobblestone, Muse, and others, among them another definitive date, Tune Up. He continued playing and recording in the early '80s, recording for Muse, Sonet, and Who's Who in Jazz. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1982. ~ Ron Wynn and Bob Porter, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Stitt's Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3

Comments

Not listed in biog but I recall vividly catching him twice with Ella, Diz & Monk back in early 60s on UK leg of Norman Granz Jazz at the Phil 'tours. He & they were all on top-notch form! Great nights of jazz like those had me hooked--ever since!
poppa_bear49
Stitt, Rollins, Coltrane, Young, Gordon, Ammons, Parker; there's probably more to say but I think these guys can cover all the bases. Rate them GREAT!!!
janis1992
Ted, I know what you mean about missing live Real Smooth Jazz from the Real Greats. In Chicago, I got to see Miles, Wes, and many other Greats!
Miss so much about listening to the great Jazz musicians live at Lennies on the Turnpike in Peabody, MA. Particularly the likes of Sonny Stitt who was introduced to me by Lennie iin the late 60's.
A Mellow,Mello w man! I can still see him on the corner of 57th. St.NYC.
Some of of the best strings of any sax player of his era. Love his work with Zoot Sims; great contrast; the hard-driving Stitt vs. the melodic, reflective Sims.
To Thompsonlann y : I agree with all you're saying, especially since I'm a jazz musician.. All I'm saying is that, barring Pandora's conceding to your demands, if you wanted the personnel on a cut, you could find out quickly by opening a new window & researching it while you listen-- There's so much info on the Web that we didn't have in the old days..to me it's fun to dig around a bit, because you CAN find EVERYTHING.. . (Yes, I used to read LP covers while listening- but now you need a microsco
thompsonlann y
In the old days, all of the recording information was on the album cover. It was a pleasure to hold and read while listening. The problem with Pandora and iTunes is the assumption that a track is identified by the artist and the song with a nod sometimes to the original album or CD. This is not pop music. This is jazz. A trio or quartet is not an artist. All personnel are artists and deserve equal respect. So yes!! Pandora should put personnel info on jazz tracks.
I can't believe the cats who keep complaining that there aren't personnel listings for the tunes.. you're on THE INTERNET, where you can find EVERYTHING in MINUTES. Yet you still want to be spoon-fed information! ? These people are clearly spoiled by the convenience of the Information Age! (Hey, did you every actually visit a library?)...
I strongly agree w/ tart722 !_It's Jazz, we NEED to know ALL the Players on a particular recording!!! ! _ _ I t is a Requisite!!! ! _ P l e a s e ! ! ! - T h a n k - y o u in advance for making this correction!!
I remember when I was a little girl my mother would take me to rehersals for a sax player which she told me was her cousin. It turns out it was Sony Stitt. At that time he was playing at the High Hat Club in Boston, Ma. I guess he is also My cousin!
Wouldn't it be wonderful, if we also knew the sidemen on these dates?
Per Sonny Stitt's own words, he & Bird arrived at their respective styles simultaneous l y . If you listen to Stitt in '46, he has the same concept as Bird but in a decidedly personal style. Even if it was true that he was a copycat, in my opinion he took what Bird did and stepped it up several notches. Plus, to be compared to the greatest player in the history of jazz should not be a shame. I'm an alto player, inspired by Parker, and when anyone jokingly calls me Bird, it's the highest honor!
do not forget sonny stitt the man was a master.
Always a Giant, saw him in Denver in 62 and sessioned with him in Los Angeles in 75,76 He was a machine gun!
Saw him live at Keystone West, Winter 1981 along with Art Blakey, Mal Waldron and others at Christmas all-star revue. Anybody remember that date?
great drive and technique.he swings. very enjoyable.

p.s. Do I need to sit by the computer to evaluate each song to prove that I am listening? I sleep very little-avera g e 2 hours in bed. I leave your program on as it is very comforting to listen to Jazz, which I love. Thank you for the opportunity of choosing artists that I enjoy.
billy3bam
i use to see the priceless battles he had w/jug ammons@the toast of the town on stoney island w/unk ezra back in the late 60's.....wow ! ! ( i n chicago)
Am I tone deaf, or does Stitt play a quarter tone sharp? ... at least on "It's Magic"...

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